Diary of culinary wonders

Diary of culinary wonders

The blue diary held within its pages culinary secrets that could make me a great cook.

Cooking is for aunties, mommies and grannies. And if that sounds judgmental and presumptuous, you’re right. I was judgmental and presumptuous about the womenfolk in my family who laboured away in the kitchen to dish out tasty treats for foodies like me. Till one such day when reality hit me. And how?

I was to get married and live alone with my husband, with no one to cook for us. Fortunately for me, I had no romantic notions about marriage that love-struck couples can survive on love and thin air alone. I knew we needed our three meals a day – fresh, tasty and healthy. But, cooking and me? A chit of a girl who’d always treated cooking with disdain?

Well, coming back to the problem, hiring a cook was not an option. What would my in-laws think? A crash course in cooking was out of the question, too. With the wedding just a month away, I was working, and shopping, and getting ready for the D-Day, all at once.

So, the next best thing was to jot down all my mom’s recipes, to experiment later. I quickly grabbed a blue diary, dragged my mom out of the kitchen, and started noting down recipes for everything from simple chutneys to complicated biryanis.

Along the way, I realised I was ignorant when it came to the names of dals. Painstakingly, I explained each dal with my own understanding of it. Toor dal was sambhar dal, green gram was kosambari dal, and so on. Once done, I felt like I had conquered the kitchen. The blue diary occupied the pride of place in my wedding trousseau, holding within its hallowed pages culinary secrets that promised to make me a great cook.

Post-honeymoon, the first thing I did on entering the kitchen was to open my blue diary and look for the simplest of recipes. It was tomato bele saaru (rasam). Thus began my culinary journey, with the blue diary religiously by my side. I quickly graduated from saaru to gravy to pulao and biriyani. Of course, not without the blue diary by my side. Recipes from glossy books were not for me. Even if I saw an interesting recipe, I had to first note it down in my blue diary before trying it out. My strong belief was that only recipes that came out of my blue diary worked their magic.

Over the years, the blue diary attracted more recipes, and oil splatter, too. Dog-ears and the fading colours of its pages notwithstanding, it continued to be my cooking bible. It was highly personalised, too, as only I could understand the recipes therein, what with my own notes in a nice combination of my mother tongue and English.

Recently, post my week-long vacation, I opened the kitchen cabinet to pull my blue diary out, and what did I see? Horror of horrors, my sacred book had been feasted upon by termites. It was in tatters. Tears rolled down my cheeks. Out of frustration, out of anger. Of all the books at home, which are quite a few, termites had to target my blue diary. The same diary that had changed my attitude toward cooking, the same one that had given me the confidence to master culinary skills. And, most of all, the one that had marked my journey from ignorance to struggle to triumph.

My dear blue diary, I miss you.

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